Climate clues from dino burrows, according to articles in fossilscience.com and BBC News 10 July 2009. Two years ago Anthony Martin, a palaeontologist at Emory University and colleagues found bones of a small adult dinosaur and two juveniles in a fossilised burrow in south western Montana. The dinosaur was named Oryctodromeus cubicularis , meaning “digging runner of the lair” and was dated as 95 million years old. Martin is a specialist in trace fossil (tracks, burrows, etc.) and has now found three more burrows in Victoria, Australia that are very similar to the O. cubicularis burrows. The burrows are twisted, and the largest and best preserved turns twice before ending in a larger chamber. It is more than 2.1m (6ft 4in) long and Martin suggested an animal around 10kg in size would have made each burrow. Twisted burrows help keep predators out and maintain more even temperature and humidity. Martin and colleagues suggest that dinosaurs dug burrows to care for their young and to escape extremes of climate. Martin explained: “This research helps us to better understand long-term geologic change, and how organisms may have adapted as the Earth has undergone periods of global cooling and warming.” The Australian burrows are dated at 106 million years, during “one of the last times the Earth experienced global warming, with an average temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit – about 10 degrees higher than today,” but even then the southern edge of Australia would have experienced cold winters and these new finds indicate dinosaurs burrowed into river banks to shelter from harsh weather.
Editorial Comment: Send Al Gore a copy – dinos suffered from Global warming – cause please Al? All jesting aside, proving that these burrows were dug by dinosaurs will not be possible without evidence of dinosaurs actually using them. (Ref. reptiles, trace fossils, Cretaceous)
Evidence News, 5 August 2009